Tuesday, September 20, 2011

David Copperfield; Or, To Birth a Book

I harbour a propensity of treating books like living, breathing creatures.  In short, they are my babies.  (As is my dog, but that's a whole other story.)  Sometimes my obsession becomes so acute, I feel the need to have myself photographed with my books.  Observe:

Aren't these beautiful?

However, this 'books as babies' mentality reached new heights of ridiculousness when I emailed a few of my friends.  I had written to proudly inform them that I had finished reading David Copperfield, and suddenly a birthing metaphor spun out of control faster than one can say Dickens.  I think it's funny though, even if one is laughing at me and not with me.  So, with some slight editing, I will share this evidence of my psychosis. 

Dearest Friends,

Today at approximately 14.05 I welcomed a new addition to my I've-Read-It List.  Name: David Copperfield.  Length: 855 pages.  Weight: enough to render my bag uncomfortably heavy.   

Considering I was in labour with young Davy for several tiring weeks, I am quite thrilled to welcome him to my list.  I have added other offspring of Charles Dickens to my list before David's arrival: Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol and (most recently) Oliver Twist.  But David is by far the weightiest of his siblings, and so it is with great pride that he is added to my expanding brood of books.

I have intended to read one of Dickens's notoriously lengthy novels for some time now.  I made the attempt about two years ago with Little Dorrit; but alas, that effort was aborted in the midst of multiple stressors.  Have any of you succeed in carrying an epic-length Dickens to full term?  If so, how did you find the experience?  For me it was a great effort.  Yet it's true what they say:you immediately forget the labour and you immediately want to have/read another (where is this metaphor going?!).  It will have to wait a while;  David, after all, is still a newborn on The List.  But I'm thinking Nicholas Nickleby or Dombey and Son.  Or Our Mutual Friend.  In short, I cannot decide.  Any suggestions?

Your eccentric,
                      but well-meaning friend,

In all seriousness, I would highly suggest you pick up David Copperfield if you find yourself in the mood for a novel by Old Charlie.  It's been a favourite of mine in a year full of reading, and it features some of the most memorable characters Dickens ever created: letter-writer-extraordinaire Mr. Micawber, spunky and donkey-phobic Aunt Trotwood, and the slimy villain Uriah Heep (pictured above).  Uriah is repeatedly described as snakelike and cadaverous.  I think the illustrator managed to capture both characteristics in this depiction.  Are you sensing his cadaverousness?  Which Dickens novel would you recommend, or would you avoid him altogether? 


John McLendon said...

I've read A Tale of Two Cities, Hard Times, and Great Expectations. I find his characters subscribe too often to being agents of metonymy. I think the next Victorian novel I read will be Vanity Fair. Next Romantic novel, Mansfield Park. But yeah, getting back to the point, an ex-girlfriend of once told me: "Dickens is a hack" --- and it is always stuck with me for some reason as having some truth.

John McLendon said...

Which is why I should read a Dicken's biography.... and finally settle the matter!

Brooke said...

I love me a good Dickens. My favorite was probably A Tale of Two Cities. I remember reading it aloud ("popcorn style") in 9th grade English over the course of the semester, and I remember being so moved and slightly upset with the book and I couldn't figure out why no one else was. I have not taken on the feat of reading David Copperfield, but I've wanted too for a long time. Ever since my mom recorded a cartoon animal version on TV one Christmas break haha!

Ana said...

I too was in labour with David Copperfield over the course of this year, although I benefited from an assisted birth as I had to read it for class. I did like it, however I still think my favourite child is A Tale of Two Cities, despite the psycopathic glint in its eye.

The Lloyd Family said...

So, those books you're holding in the first shot? Yeah, those are the books I was drooling over recently in my local Barnes & Noble. I understand why you felt a need to be photographed with them. The mere thought of them makes me swoon.

As for Dickens, we've already discussed this, but I have to at least give a plug in this comments section of your blog for Little Dorrit. Ah, the beauty of that book. I believe my copy is heavily underlined.

P.S. How should I feel about the fact that the word verification today is the word SCORN?

Diana said...

Brooke, you seriously watched a cartoon animal version of David Copperfield as a child? That's amazing! Do you remember which animals were assigned to the specific chracters?

Diana said...

Ashley: so THOSE were the books you were talking about. I had an inkling I was familiar with the books in question.

They really are incredible. I now own ten of them, and it's so hard to choose a favourite. They're issuing an edition of Bleak House that I am dying to get my hands on. It has birdcages on it. Hell to the yeah! Did any of them particularly stand out for you?